Right Care Boston Logo v2.jpg
 

Who are we?

How do we fix a broken health care system that not only fails to serve patient needs, but also cripples budgets for schools, subways, and public safety? How do we contend with the reality that our health care institutions--pharmaceutical and medical technology companies, insurers, and hospital and physician groups--are very deeply established and well financed? 

We are a coalition of health care professionals and the general public, supported by the Lown Institute's RightCare Alliance, who believe the answer is to engage the general public to organize a large scale, broad based, grassroots effort to take control of health care and make it do what it's supposed to do- serve the public good. Currently representing more than 100 participants who have convened two town halls and held monthly planning meetings since Novemenber 2015, we have a plan to mobilize the public will to create a health care system that honors its central mission.

What’s our goal?

To make a concrete, meaningful improvement to the way patients in the Boston area experience healthcare, such as:

- Increasing the time clinicians have with patients

- Creating new community health centers in a neighborhoods in need of better access to primary care

- Adjusting the cost burden to patients in a significant way, such as copays or transportation fees

- Developing mental health services that are available to those in need

- Establishing an adequate transportation infrastructure to get to healthcare appointments

Get Involved

See the first FAQ item below or email outreach@lowninstitute.org.

 

Background

For many societal challenges, members of the general public have a pathway to engage. For environmental threats there are energy efficient lightbulbs and renewable energy sources. For various forms of inequality, there are meetings and marches for Black Lives Matter, there were state-wide ballot initiatives for marriage inequality.

What is the pathway for the general public to engage with the problem of health care? How does someone outside of the medical professions engage with fixing health care in the same way that they know that energy efficiency is good for the environment and voting on ballot initiatives are good for any variety of political issues?

The work of Right Care Boston is to create that pathway for everyday citizens to do something that will make a difference. 

Creating a pathway for activism does not simply come to mind. It takes a long time, lots of hard work, and is full of false starts and dead ends. For the problem of dysfunctional health care, the hard work is certainly worth it.

We can't do it alone

For clinicians who are armed with an intimate knowledge of these problems, a moral obligation to patients and the public, and an inherent assumption of public trust, the temptation is to throw caution to the wind, pick a power player (a CEO, a politician), walk into their office and spell out our demands: More time with patients, more accessible primary care, especially for the marginalized and impoverished, more mental health services, more preventive care, prioritize patients over profits…. Some among us have done this, and have been unsuccessful. We need to begin with a broader understanding from patients, the public, and health care professionals.

 

Our Plan

Step 1- State the need for clinician-public action

The clinicians in Right Care Boston issue a public statement attesting to the fact that health care is so broken, and the health care industry is so entrenched, that broad public action is the only means powerful enough to actually make health care work for us. This statement specifically asks the public to tell Right Care Boston what problems they want fixed.

Step 2- Listening tour of Boston (define the problem and grow the coalition)

Right Care Boston reaches out to the public to hear their perspective on the problem and ideas for fixing it in the form of a listening tour, an active engagement with the voices of those whom the health care system most disserves--the poor, elderly, chronically ill, non-English speakers and the otherwise marginalized. The goal is to capture the public's felt health needs so that a pathway to action can be constructed, not to meet the theories of a bunch of expert doctors, but to truly serve the public good.

Right Care Boston also reaches out to clinicians in the area to start the conversation.

Step 3- Design and carry out a political campaign

Depending on the issue chosen, we will identify the relevant power structures and orchestrate a political strategy that ultimately adjusts the flow of resources to create a lasting change in how people in the Boston area experience healthcare. We anticipate this operating over the ensuing six to twelve months in accordance with policy votes and election cycles.

 

Frequently asked questions

How can I get involved?

PATIENTS AND PUBLIC IN GENERAL:

- Talk to your family, friends, and neighbors about how our health care system has failed us in its mission to provide health. 

- Send us your stories so that we can better understand how to fix the problem at outreach@lowninstitute.org

- Organize a listening event at your home or a local place to collect and share stories. Contact us so we can help and capture this crucial input.

CLINICIANS:

- Review and sign our Clinician Statement (above) on the failings of the system as understood from the inside.

- Submit a story the exemplifies these systemic failures that we can publish on our blog.

- Organize a house party to better describe the system failure, review and sign the Clinician Statement.

- Organize a listening event in the neighborhood where you live or work. Contact outreach@lowninstitute.org for help.

 

But what do you stand for? What’s your issue?

It bears repeating that we do not have a particular stance regarding issues in healthcare, such as the importance and role of single payer, the Affordable Care Act, the power balance between hospital systems in Boston, etc. Many members have strong, diverse feelings that are welcome. However, at the outset, we do not have an official position on specific measures, policies, or proposals. We are united in the general belief that healthcare is a human right, that robust community based primary care is essential, that the hospital system needs reform, that expensive barriers to care must be eliminated, that prevention be emphasized above treatment, and that social determinants of health be addressed.

 

Can’t doctors just organize themselves and tell the powers that be what to do?

Clinicians are crucial to this movement because they work at the epicenter of healthcare as stewards of individual and public health and trust. However, the nature of their professional education and culture runs against methodical, democratic, coalition-building methods. Problems are typically seized single-handedly, solutions crafted on the go and often beaten into fruition. Success in the public arena (slow, deliberate coalition building around well defined and well understood goals) requires a set of skills that may directly oppose effectiveness in the clinic.

 

But patients don’t really understand the complexities of healthcare, isn’t the doctor view more important?

The public is crucial not simply as a warehouse of votes, but as the wellspring of value and purpose in healthcare. We cannot know how to improve healthcare without knowing, genuinely and deeply, the needs of the public. Assuming the public’s needs, while expeditious in the short term, is a recipe for unconsciously perpetuating current inequalities as well as alienating public support. Fortunately, to elicit the public’s perspective is to simultaneously solicit their support. In the end, robust public support will likely make the difference between talk and action.

 

This listening tour idea sounds like a waste of time, we can’t wait that long to pick an issue.

The public is crucial not simply as a warehouse of votes, but as the wellspring of value and purpose in healthcare. We cannot know how to improve healthcare without knowing, genuinely and deeply, the needs of the public. Assuming the public’s needs, while expeditious in the short term, is a recipe for unconsciously perpetuating current inequalities as well as alienating public support. Fortunately, to elicit the public’s perspective is to simultaneously solicit their support. In the end, robust public support will likely make the difference between talk and action.